Vitamins and the Eye

Vitamins and the Eye

Vitamins for prevention of Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Vitamins for prevention of Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts are common causes of visual loss in older adults. Two questions I am frequently asked in the clinic of Akler Eye Center are:

  1. Do any vitamins help prevent these conditions?
  2. Will taking vitamins stop my vision from getting worse if I have cataracts or AMD?

The Age-Related Eye Disease study (AREDS) is a large study that was conducted by the National Eye Institute. It showed that patients with AMD who took antioxidants and zinc reduced the risk of visual loss caused by advanced AMD by 25%. On the basis of this study, patients at risk for advanced AMD should take the AREDS formula of vitamin C 500 mg, vitamin E 400 IU, beta-carotene 15 mg, zinc 80 mg (as zinc oxide) and copper 2 mg (as cupric acid). If you are a smoker you should not take the beta-catotene as this can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers. There may be a benefit in taking lutein and omega-3 fatty acids. These supplements are being studied in the AREDS2 but the results are not yet out. To determine who is at risk for advanced AMD and therefore should take the supplements, a thorough eye exam including a dilated check is necessary.

hero-loThere is no evidence to support taking nutritional supplements if you are a healthy adult with no signs of AMD. There is also no vitamin or supplement that has been proven to prevent or treat cataracts.

At Akler Eye Center, we recommend a yearly screening examination including a dilated check in older adults to screen for AMD, glaucoma and cataracts. I can then make recommendations regarding nutritional supplements and other treatments based on your examination.

By: Michelle Akler, MD

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